|Author: Rhynes, J.D.
|The one constant in life, change.
If each and every one of us were to set down and ponder the changes
in our life over the last 20 or maybe 25 years, I'm sure that we
would realize that most of the changes in our life did not follow
the plan that we laid out. Such is the case with my life, and as I
get older I realize that one of my favorite sayings is really true.
That saying being; if you really want to make God laugh, just tell
him your plans. As my friend Ron Thomason would say, told you that,
to tell you this.
For you folks that were not at our festival this year, during my
stint as master of ceremonies for the Saturday evening show, I
announced to the audience that this would be my last time to act as
master of ceremonies for the Saturday evening show. I had a speech
all outlined in my mind for the folks, but when I started talking,
it all kind of disappeared and I can't really remember what I said,
other than giving them a rough outline that went kind of like this.
Back in the early 80s when Ray Edlund was president of the CBA, one
Friday evening at the festival, one of the masters of ceremonies
didn't show up and Ray asked me to fill in for him, which I did. The
following year I was asked to act as a master of ceremonies for the
Friday night show once again, which I did. This went on until about
1986 or 87 when I was asked to do the Saturday night show as well.
And that's how it got started. Now for some personal history.
I remembered back in the early days of our festival when the
best-dressed master of ceremonies on stage was Mr. Roscoe Keithley,
and he really stood out head and shoulders above the other masters
of ceremonies due to the fact that he really dressed sharp and knew
the music and the performers he was introducing. I'm proud to say
that Roscoe was my mentor and my inspiration to be the very best
master of ceremonies that I could be. I vowed to bring an air of
professionalism to the stage, to dress as nice as I can afford and
never, never, never go on stage wearing a T-shirt dirty jeans and
sneakers like some of our masters of ceremonies had done in the
early years of our festival. I also made a point of getting to know
the performers that appeared at our festival, and in doing so I
have made a lot of friends that I still have to this day. My old
buddy Charles Sawtelle and I both believed in the same credo, to do
good you have to look good.
So, my friends, that brings us to today June 27, 2012. My reasons
for retiring from the stage are twofold. Number one, my health
problems have increased dramatically in the past year, due to the
Parkinson's that has afflicted me, number two, I feel it's time for
a change. Too many times in my 74 years I have seen people stay in
positions well past their effective years. Nobody wants to see an
old man stuttering and stammering on stage and shaking like a leaf.
I wanted to leave on my terms riding tall in the saddle, versus
being carried across it. My successor Chuck Poling will do a
magnificent job for you folks, he being quantum leaps and bounds
funnier than I ever dared to be on stage. If I ever said anything
funny while on stage, please believe me, it was quite by accident.
The funniest thing I ever said on stage was when I told JD Crowe, a
banjo joke; Mr. Crowe, what do you get when you cross a pig with a
banjo picker? JD Crowe answered, I don't know? Nothing says I,
there's some things a pig won't do. Mr. Crowe vowed to get me for
Telling the audience that night, that this was my final Saturday
evening show was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my
life. I always considered it an honor to present the Saturday night
show, and I always did my best to present it in the most
professional manner that I could. When the folks gave me a standing
ovation that night, it was all I could do not to break down and cry.
That was the most dramatic moment of my life, and I thank you folks
for it. I won't deny I had tears in my eyes and it was kind of hard
to talk for a few minutes. It was at that moment that some advice
Bill Monroe gave me years ago flashed through my mind; boy, you just
got to be tough! Thank you Bill, I got through it and the show went
When I first heard Bill Monroe on the radio that morning in 1943, I
had no idea where my life would lead me due to his music. The only
thing I knew was that I had to learn it, and play it, which I did,
to the best of my ability. I had no idea when my daddy bought me my
first Fiddle in 1948 what roads It would take me down later in life.
I had no idea when I learned to play the guitar and the bass, what
roads they would take me down in life. I had no idea that I would be
able to call the father of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe, a personal
friend. I had no idea that I would be able to call hundreds of
bluegrass performers my personal friends. I had no idea that in 1973
I would be a part of the conversation that led to the formation of
the California bluegrass Association. I had no idea that it would
become the worlds largest bluegrass music Association. I had no idea
that I would get to meet thousands of bluegrass music fans who I
consider each and every one a friend. I had no idea that I would be
given the honor presenting some of the finest shows that was ever
performed at the Father's Day Bluegrass Festival. I had no idea that
this old country boy from Arkansas would be accorded a standing
ovation from the greatest progress music fans in the world. Looking
back, all I can say is this, God has certainly blessed me beyond my
wildest dreams to be able to do what I have done over the years and
have so much fun doing it. To quote a line from my favorite movie
Lonesome Dove, when Gus laying on his deathbed said to Woodrow;
Woodrow, it's been one hell of a party! That's exactly how I feel
about this portion of my bluegrass journey, and hopefully it's not
over yet. I thank all of you folks from the bottom of my heart, and
may God grant us all peace and health.Yer friend, J.D.Rhynes
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